The Mighty Logo

Why I Need Things to Work the First Try With Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

For a lot of people, running errands is just a daily nuisance. But when you have a chronic illness, things like going to the post office to pick up a parcel, going to the bank or doctor can often feel like momentous tasks you’re barely able to do.

The past year, despite lockdown and staying home most of the time, I had quite a lot of appointments. I got married and this came with a lot of paperwork — going to the registry office, city hall, changing my name everywhere and getting a new passport. All things I had never done before and didn’t know the exact steps to take and what kind of documents were required. I’m naturally a very conscientious person and like things to be done right. I hate making mistakes. I’m a perfectionist. And I feel as if, whenever I make a mistake, I’ve embarrassed myself.

So, having to do a big amount of life admin was stressing me out. I spent a lot of time doing research so I would be best prepared for all appointments with all the necessary paperwork. My husband is a little different. He gives things his best shot on the first try, but doesn’t stress about things when they don’t go right immediately. He doesn’t understand why I’m always so stressed, and when we talked about it, I realized it’s not just my fear of making mistakes. It actually has a lot to do with bad health.

When I have to make an appointment for a specific day and time, I excessively worry about it. Will I be able to get out of bed? Will I have enough energy to go to the train station? Will my migraine make me incredibly nauseous? Will I be able to understand what people are saying to me and form any sentences? Will I be able to even hold a pen?

On a typical day, I’ll wake up, assess how I’m feeling and plan my day accordingly. But when I have an appointment, I have no choice but to drag myself there. I always force myself to go, no matter how I’m feeling, but it usually takes a toll and I feel much worse for days after. The anticipatory stress is of course also adding to the detrimental health effect. And when something doesn’t work out straightaway and I know I have to make another appointment and come back, it will again cost me so much energy I don’t have.

I’m not sure how to deal with this problem. It’s not going to change. There will always be appointments I have to go to and my health is never going to be predictable. Right now, my only coping mechanism is to get things right on the first try so I don’t have to go back again a second time. But sometimes it’s not all up to me. Sometimes you go somewhere, and they mess up or aren’t prepared.

How do you deal with this? Do you have any routines that help you when you have to leave the house for appointments? Let me know in the comments!

Getty image by nadia_bormotova

Originally published: February 9, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home